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Tips & Tricks

Converting Live Photos to Still Images

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to switch off Live Photo mode on your iPhone 6s or iPhone 7, or maybe you have Live Photos that you’d rather just convert back to static, normal images. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to do this with an existing Live Photo in your Photos app, by either non-destructively editing the original photo, or duplicating a photo in iOS 9.3 or later.

To remove the Live Photo effect from an existing photo, simply go into “Edit” mode and tap the Live Photo icon in the top-left corner of the screen to toggle it off. Like any other edit, this is non-destructive and will not permanently remove the Live Photo effect — it essentially just switches it off while leaving the actual underlying Live Photo data intact. Alternatively, duplicating a Live Photo using the option in the Share Sheet’s Actions menu will provide you with a choice to either duplicate the Live Photo in its original form, or create the copy as a “Still Photo” — in the latter case, the new photo will have all Live Photo data removed entirely, and will simply be stored as a straight JPG image. You can then delete the original Live Photo version entirely if you no longer want to keep it around.

Duplicating a Photo in the iOS Photos app

One of the smaller features that Apple quietly snuck into iOS 9.3 is the ability to create a duplicate of any given photo or set of photos in the iOS Photos app. This can be done by selecting the photo(s) you want to duplicate, bringing up the iOS Share Sheet to see the sharing options, and looking for the “Duplicate” option in the lower actions row.

This creates an exact copy of the image, which can be useful if you want to apply edits while still keeping the original handy. As an added bonus, however, using the “Duplicate” option on a Live Photo will provide a choice between duplicating the Live Photo in its original form, or duplicating it as a still photo.

Adjusting Video Playback Quality to control data usage in iOS 10

If you stream video from the iTunes Store or Apple Music and you’re on a limited data plan, you may appreciate two new quality settings that Apple has added for the built-in Videos app in iOS 10, allowing you to control how much data is used when streaming video, in exchange for quality.

Found in the Videos section of the iOS Settings app, two Playback Quality options allow you to independently choose between “Good” (basically SD quality) or “Best Available” (full HD quality) for both Wi-Fi and Cellular data connections. Users on limited data plans will almost certainly want to stick with the “Good” setting for Cellular, at least, although if you’ve got an older device and aren’t concerned about HD quality, you can get some performance gains from using “Good” for Wi-Fi connections as well.

Choosing preferred Driving + Transit options in iOS 10 Maps

In addition to a whole new design, the Maps app in iOS 10 also adds more control over route options for driving or transit directions. If you scroll down to the bottom of the list of available routes when getting directions in Maps, you’ll see a link for Driving Options or Transit Options, depending on which mode you’re in.

Tapping on Driving Options will bring up switches that allow you to avoid toll roads or highways along your route, while tapping Transit Options allows you to select which types of transit vehicles you would like to include in your route, with options available for Bus, Subway/LRT, Commuter Rail, and Ferry. These options can also be found in the Maps section of the iOS Settings app, under Driving & Navigation and Transit.

Accessing Medical ID from the iOS 10 Lock Screen

A useful feature in the iOS Health app that you may not be aware of is the ability to store your “Medical ID” for emergency purposes, including emergency contact information, medical conditions, allergies, medications, blood type, and more. This is all setup from the “Medical ID” tab in the Health app, and is designed to be accessed from the iPhone lock screen or Apple Watch in the event of an emergency. The Medical ID can be accessed from an iPhone Lock Screen by bringing up the passcode entry screen, tapping the “Emergency” button at the top, and then tapping the “Medical ID” icon that appears in the bottom left corner. Calls can even be placed to emergency contacts right from this screen with a single tap. If you don’t want your Medical ID available from the lock screen, you can just turn off the “Show When Locked” setting at the top of the Medical ID editing screen.

Enabling animations in iOS 10 Messages

The new iMessage animations in iOS 10 are a lot of fun, but if you find that they’re not actually working, you’ll want to check your iOS Accessibility settings. After iOS 7 debuted its “parallax effect,” many iPhone users found it distracting or nauseating and decided to disable it by turning on Reduce Motion under Accessibility settings.

If you had this setting enabled before, it stays enabled after you update to iOS 10 — and as part of reducing motion, it also logically turns off any motion-related effects in the iOS 10 Messages app, such as animated bubbles and background animations. With Reduce Motion enabled, in fact, you not only won’t be able to receive or see these effects, but you can’t send iMessages using the effects either — pressing and holding on the Send button will have no effect at all, and Apple doesn’t make it particularly obvious that these features are dependent on the Reduce Motion setting.

Taking pictures and saving to photo library in iOS 10 Messages

Apple’s done some cool new things with the Messages app in iOS 10, including adding a live preview for taking photos right within a conversation. If you’ve used this feature, however, you may have noticed that the photo you capture doesn’t actually save to the iPhone’s Photo Library — it’s only inserted into the current conversation. While this can be desirable in some cases, if you’re taking a photo that you might want to keep around for later, you can actually bring up the full iPhone Camera by swiping from left to right and tapping on the Camera button that will appear.

This also has the advantage of giving you a full-screen camera view, which users of smaller-screened iPhones will certainly appreciate, compared to the much smaller live preview window.

Saving power with Face-down detection for iPhone

If you get a lot of notifications during the day, you can actually save a bit of battery life by leaving your iPhone face down on a table or other surface. Face-down detection is a subtle feature that Apple snuck into iOS 9 last fall to save a bit of power on modern iPhones by not lighting up the screen whenever text message notifications come in — after all, the screen is one of the biggest power consumers on the iPhone, and since you can’t see the screen anyway when the iPhone is face down, what’s the point in turning it on?

Finding Frequently Visited Locations on your iPhone

You may not be aware, but by default your iPhone actually keeps track of places you’ve frequently visited and when you were there. While this is done primarily to aid in features like navigation in the iOS Maps app and for iOS 9’s “Proactive Assistant” to help figure out when you’re most likely going to work or the grocery store, you can also see the data for yourself. While the set of places isn’t comprehensive — it’s based on frequently visited locations, rather than a list of everywhere that you’ve been even once — it can still be handy if you’re trying to figure out when you were last out at a specific location.

You’ll need to dig deep into the iOS Settings app to find it — specifically going into Privacy, Location Services and then scrolling down all the way to the bottom to find System Services, where Frequent Locations will appear among other iOS features that use the location monitoring services.

Speeding up Apple Pay at checkout

Apple Pay is a pretty useful feature, especially when you keep your phone handier than your wallet, and you use it in tandem with other Wallet features such as scannable loyalty cards. That said, the NFC payments process is not always flawless, especially when you have to fumble with your iPhone to hit the Touch ID sensor while also lining it up properly with the contactless terminal. Fortunately, there are a couple of useful tricks to help speed up the process.

Quickly unlocking your iPhone for Siri

For security reasons, when you make certain requests of Siri — such as checking your email or unlocking a HomeKit door lock — she’ll respond that you need to unlock your iPhone first, usually presenting you with the keypad, so you can either punch in your passcode or use Touch ID to authenticate. However, if you often find yourself making these requests, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a way to do it a bit quicker, as long as you’re using a Touch ID-equipped iPhone.

Using the iPhone as a remote camera with Apple Watch

If you’ve got an Apple Watch, you probably already know that you can use your wearable device as a camera remote to take pictures on your iPhone from your wrist, but you may not realize that it also makes a great way to keep an eye on what’s happening elsewhere in your home or nearby, directly from your wrist.

For example, you could leave your iPhone in a kid’s room to keep an eye on the youngsters while you’re busy with other household tasks, or check on the status of lights in the kitchen when trying to figure out which circuit breakers are which in the basement of your house. As the link between the iPhone and your Apple Watch is limited to the standard Bluetooth range of about 30 feet, you won’t be able to roam far, but it should work reasonably well in a small home or office setting.

Using your iPhone’s flash LED for alerts and notifications

If you work or live in a noisy environment, have a hard time hearing your iPhone alerts, or simply want to take advantage of a cool iPhone case feature, you’ll likely appreciate the ability to have your iPhone light up its camera flash LED to let you know about incoming notifications. This feature is built into the iPhone, although it’s not located in an obvious place, as Apple designed it specifically for those users with hearing problems who may not be able to hear their iPhone ringing, even at the loudest volume. As a result, the setting lives not under Sounds or Notifications, where you might expect it to be, but in the Accessibility section, under Settings, General.

Managing iOS device backups in iTunes

While iCloud backups provide a certain degree of convenience, many users will quickly go beyond the free 5GB of storage that Apple provides. Unless you’re already paying for more iCloud storage, or willing to shell out for a larger plan just for backups, you’ll be happy to know that iTunes still provides a handy alternative to keep your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch backed up to your Mac or PC, and in fact even has a key advantage over iCloud for transferring data to a new device.

Sorting iOS Notifications Chronologically

Although you’ve been able to set your notifications to sort by date since the Notification Center first debuted back in iOS 5, all this option actually did was sort your apps by the date the last notification was received, grouping each notification under app-specific headings. Unfortunately, this didn’t provide an entirely chronological view of your notifications, since apps that had received several notifications over the course of a day would still have those older notifications grouped with it, above whichever app had displayed the second-most recent notification, and so forth.

Bringing up Wallet from the iPhone lock screen

In addition to renaming Passbook to the more appropriate name of Wallet, iOS 9 now makes it even easier to access your Apple Pay and other cards while your iPhone is locked. Simply double-tap the home button, and it will come up and be ready to go. Of course, you’ll still need to authenticate Apple Pay transactions using Touch ID, but the rest of your cards will be readily accessible for scanning without having to unlock your iPhone and open the Wallet app.

Annotating PDFs and images in iOS 9 Mail

A subtle new feature that’s been added to the built-in Mail app in iOS 9 allows you to mark up PDF and image file attachments. With the built-in markup editor you can add lines, shapes, arrows, and even drop in your signature. As an added bonus, if you’ve created signatures in Preview on your Mac they’ll be automatically synced via iCloud (providing you’re signed into the same iCloud account on both devices) and available to use in the markup editor.

Saving and Sharing Visual Voicemail Messages

When Apple debuted Visual Voicemail on the original iPhone in 2007, it introduced a whole new way to deal with voicemail messages, making the process about as seamless as working through an email inbox. Now iOS 9 takes these capabilities a step further, allowing you to not only browse through and listen to your messages, but to easily save and share them right from the Phone app.

When viewing your voicemail messages on your iPhone, you’ll see the standard “Share” button now appears in the top right corner right beside the info button. Tapping on this brings up the standard iOS Share Sheet, where you can share your voicemail message via email or iMessages, save it to the new iOS 9 Notes app, or even export it right into your Voice Memos app, Dropbox, Google Drive, or any other supported third-party app.

Adding links to Reminders in iOS 9

With iOS 9 you can now create reminders that are linked to content in other applications, such as a web page, email, contact, conversation in messages, or location in maps. Even better, many third-party apps also provide support for the same feature, allowing you to set reminders directly from those apps and then link back into where you were in the app, such as editing an image in Pixelmator, being reminded about a reading item in Pocket, or saving and pulling up a calculation in PCalc. Many of these links will even work on OS X El Capitan, provided you have the corresponding app installed on your Mac.

Enabling iCloud Drive app in iOS 9

Although Apple first debuted iCloud Drive in iOS 8 last year, it was implemented merely as a hidden file system designed to be used only within apps specifically designed to support it; unlike on OS X Mavericks, there was no iOS-based option to directly browse through your iCloud drive, making it a completely impractical replacement for something like Dropbox or Google Drive. The good news is that Apple has opened this up with iOS 9 by adding a standalone, built-in iCloud Drive app, providing direct access to everything you have stored in iCloud Drive, along with some basic file organization and sharing features.

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